We’ve mentioned several books about islands in class and just as we analyzed the themes found on them, I focused on four major themes that Peter Pan, The Odyssey, And Then There Were None, and Lord of the Flies have in common.
Everyone who’s seen Peter Pan knows you can only get to Neverland by flying there, but what wasn’t mentioned in the movie is that the island can hide itself from those it doesn’t want to come. The island almost has a mind of its own and because of this, is completely isolated from the outside world in its efforts to keep adults off the island. Time passes differently on Neverland and with no contact with the mainland, the children have no idea how much time actually passed on the island. They are completely cut off from their old lives so they begin to forget it. They start to feel as if they had always been there. The line between fantasy and reality is hard to distinguish on an island of make believe. The island is even physically different when the Darlings get there as opposed to their dreams about it. They do not want to admit to the dangers of it. In reality, the island is dangerous for children because there is an ongoing war between the Indians, the pirates, and the lost boys and many are often killed on all sides. The children don’t see the harshness of the island because Peter has them all playing one long game of make believe. He can sometimes go so far as to pretend to make them eat. Peter Pan is the one child who will never grow up, but because he won’t he doesn’t want anyone else to either. He thinks by forbidding the children to grow up he will keep them young forever. It is even implied that he kills the lost boys if they get too old because it is against the rules to grow up. Even Captain Hook doesn’t want to face the reality that he will get old as well. He still hides in fear as Time, the ticking crocodile, comes for him.
The boys who are stranded on the island in Lord of the Flies are actually very similar to the Darling children because they expected living on an island with no adults to be like living in a dream. They were isolated from the mainland as well, but instead of becoming forgetful, they gave into their fears and became violent. The oldest boy on the island was twelve so it would be expected that the younger children would become frightened. They continuously talked about a “beastie” on the island which was ultimately inside the boys themselves which cause them to become violent and give into animal-like tendencies. The natural beauty of the island was quickly disrupted as the boys began lighting fires, killing the animals, and eventually killing each other. Man’s permanent mark was left on the island the moment the boys landed when the plane crash left a “scar” on the beautiful beach and the downfall of the boys led to the destruction of the island. The boys did not have a relationship with the island as the lost boys did with Neverland, in their war for control of the island, the island was left in flames and destroyed completely.
The children had a hard time adjusting to life on their islands, but the adults did not do that much better. In And Then There Were None, the guests are trapped on Soldier Island and are killed off by one of the other guests for past crimes. They are completely isolated and the island feels like an entirely new world that they cannot escape from. From far away it looks peaceful and like the perfect vacation spot because it is so small and the house is so modern, but this ends up being the most dangrous thing about it. Because the island is so small and nothing can be hidden in the house, there is no where for the killer or the guests to hide. They eventually realize that the killer must be among them because, after scouring the island several times, they found no hint of anyone else staying on the island. All of the guests are invited for a relaxing vaction where they think they can hide from their guilt and pretend nothing happened, but instead of living in a dream they are forced to live a nightmare.
In the Odyssey, Odysseus travels to several islands with his crew before he is stranded on the Isle of Odigia. The Isle of Odigia is isolated from the outside world and there are no means of escape because it is the private island of the goddess, Calypso. While on the island, Odysseus develops a depression because he cannot see any of his family back home. Although he was better taken care of on this island by Calypso than on any of the others, he despises it the most because he feels he is so close to home but cannot make it to the mainland. Many years before he is trapped here, he travels to several islands, including the Island of the Cyclops and the Island of the Lotus Eaters. The Island of the Cyclops seems pretty and welcoming when you first arrive on shore, but it turns out to be anything but welcoming. Odysseus and some of his men decide to take a look around and wait in the home of one of the Cyclopes. When he returns he kills and eats several of the man and traps the rest inside. Because Odysseus failed to recognize the danger after immediately coming to the island, he was only able to escape with a few of the men he came with. After this they travel to the Island of the Lotus Eaters. It is much less violent, but it does stop their travels for a time. When they men go to explore the island, the local invite them to eat some of the fruit of the Lotus flowers. The men do this thinking the food of the island to be exotic, and it puts them in a sort of trance. They forget the reason they came to the island and lose all motivation to leave the island. The men were living in a dream like state while on the island and couldn’t face reality until they were forcibly dragged onto the boat.